Green is the new black – is sustainable fashion the latest trend? - TEDxLondon

Green is the new black – is sustainable fashion the latest trend?

In the aftermath of a London Fashion Week during which sustainability was the major focus, we take a look at what it will really take to create a fashion industry that’s good for the plan.

With a flash of lightbulbs, a rustle of fabric and the stomp of heels down a catwalk, London Fashion Week kicked into gear earlier this month.  But accompanying the usual glamour was a sense of apprehension. Extinction Rebellion had made it clear they were planning to disrupt the shows and parties, hoping to draw attention to the waste and environmental damage wrought by the global fashion industry.

Extinction Rebellion’s demands are backed up by unsettling statistics. According to The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), approximately 11 million items of clothing go into landfill each year, while the 2019 Pulse Report stated that, without radical action, the global textiles industry will be accountable for one quarter of the world’s carbon budget by 2050. And the industry is expanding – the Global Fashion Agenda suggests that, by 2030, the global apparel and footwear sector will have grown by 81%. 

It’s not all bad news however; sustainability is the topic drawing all the attention this season. A new generation of designers is putting the environmental and ethical imprint of their clothes firmly on the agenda, while established labels are keen to be seen to be shifting their practices. This change is coming from the top, with the British Fashion Council announcing the launch of a new initiative named the Institute of Positive Fashion (IPF), created to set industry standards that encourage companies to champion greener business models and enable positive change.

So what can we do to help break the cycle of production, consumption and disposal? Buy less and buy better. Download an app like Good On You to check out the green and ethical credentials of a brand before you purchase. Take clothes to be mended rather than throwing them away. Shop from second-hand, vintage or charity shops (more on that below). And, without question, start holding fashion brands to account. Demand clarity around their sustainability targets across the supply chain and the steps they’re taking to achieve them. 

Last Friday, just as political leaders began to convene at the United Nations in New York for the 74th General Assembly, coordinated climate strikes involving unprecedented numbers of people, took place in cities all over around the world. People are demanding radical action and any industry that refuses to comply will be in danger of going out of trend.


When a fire alarm goes off, someone needs to stand up and leave the room, otherwise no one thinks the alarm is real. We need fashion to be that person

Sara Arnold, Extinction Rebellion


London’s best charity shops, as chosen by the TEDxLondon team

The high street charity shop is a great British institution and we all have our favourites! Here are the TEDxLondon team’s top picks to find that feel-good bargain…

  • “Crisis, Finsbury Park – every time I go there I magically find something I’ve been meaning to pick up elsewhere, plus they serve great coffee” – Flo, Copywriter
  • “I love Traid on Kilburn High Road – but all of their branches are amazing” – Rebecca, Creative Director
  • “Shelter in Kings Cross – full of vintage and designer treasures, plus it raises vital money for those suffering from homelessness” – Josie, Marketing Manager
  • “Barnes’ Living & Giving for Save the Children UK – the staff are lovely plus they do Gift Aid, which means the charity gets even more!” – Sarah, Marketing & Comms Director
  • “Mary’s Living & Giving on Fulham Road – I can’t go in there without leaving with a fashion treat!” – Ashleigh, Speaker Scouting & Application Manager
  • “Fara on Pentonville Road – it has a great little vintage section where I always find some gems” – Rebecca, Operations & Customer Service Manager


Global climate strikes: the movement in pictures

Global Climate Strike - New Delhi, India
Photograph: EPA


Global Climate Strike - Maastricht, Netherlands
Photograph:Marcel van Hoorn/AFP/Getty Images


Global Climate Strike - Durban, South Africa
Photograph:Rajesh Jantilal/AFP/Getty Images


Global Climate Strike - Ankara, Turkey
Photograph:Esra Hacıoglŭ/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images


Cleaning up our backyard

Here at TEDxLondon we’re committed to doing our bit too. That’s why we’re building our sustainability strategy through working with brands like Bags of Ethics™ – a positive label that puts the emphasis on the people and the planet behind every product their manufacturer Supreme Creations produces, and makes sure every member of their supply chain is paid fairly.

Bags of Ethics™ – a positive label that puts the emphasis on the people and the planet behind every product their manufacturer Supreme Creations produces, and makes sure every member of their supply chain is paid fairly.

Made in the company’s own factory in Pondicherry, India, where over 90% of the workforce are women – many of whom are the main breadwinners for their families – Bags of Ethics help build a sense of community. Here’s one of the team helping create our 2019 Beyond Borders bags!

Did you know: The fast fashion industry produces around 1 billion garments annually.


Further reading: Setting a trend